Carson Palmer Press Conference Transcript

Q: Mobility-wise, do you feel like this is the best you have felt since your knee injury?CP: "I think so. I was told way back when I had the surgery that it was going to get better year after year. I was going to feel 100 percent but wouldn't realize I was 100 percent until the following year and the following year. Body-wise, I feel as good as I felt as before I tore my knee up."

Q: So in three years, you're going to be able to run as well as Michael Vick?CP: "By 2012 I'll be running sub 4.4's (40-yard dashes). I'll be like 34 (years old) but it won't matter, I'll be getting faster."

Q: Will you be chasing Cedric Benson? CP: "Exactly."

Q: How is your left thumb injury? CP: "Not an issue at all."

Q: Are you going to be able to hand off with that hand this week?CP: "Yes."

Q: What did they do with the glove and tape on your hand on Sunday?CP: "It was a tape job. Not sure how it will go in practice. If I need a tape job or they need to do something with it, they will."

Q: How strange was it handing off with your right hand?CP: "Not strange. I broke my collarbone in college one time and needed to do that for a couple games. I've done it before and it's one of those things you do on the fly. Ced (Cedric Benson) did a great job on ball security."

Q: Are you more comfortable with scrambling now? Will you be looking to scramble more often?CP: "I wouldn't say I'm looking for it more. I'm trying to find a guy open at the last second in those types of situations where the big plays are made. Coverages break down after three or four seconds and the guy gets out of the pocket. I'd much rather throw it and get the big-play potential in a throw. If need be, if there's a hole or a seam, I'll try to get as much as I can and get as close to the first-down marker as I can."

Q: Watching guys like Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, does it make you more aware of getting out of the pocket?CP: "No. Just situation when it presents itself. You have to take advantage of a seam or crease in the pocket."

Q: This team has been 4-1 before, but people talk about how this is a different team. Does it seem different from a few years ago?CP: "It's tough to say. It seems so long ago. But you're right, it's a different team, mindset and players. It's like comparing the Cincinnati Bengals with the Washington Redskins or any other team in the league. There are a couple of key guys still on the team, but it's new names with new numbers, a number of new coaches and schemes. As far as comparing the mindset to this group or that group, I would say it's similar. We're confident regardless of who we play. We're excited to play and work. It's a more mature group. We play with a lot of fire and energy, not necessarily calm but more professional and mature."

Q: Isn't it a little crazy that all these games go down to the final 30 seconds? Do you guys ever wonder if this is going to be a recurring theme?CP: "No, you don't. Last week we didn't think about the Cleveland game and the week of the Cleveland game we weren't thinking about Pittsburgh. I think it's just that crazy things happen in this league. Great teams lose to bad teams. One team ends up with a blowout and the next game it goes to OT. Just crazy things happen in this league, and you have to be prepared for everything. I don't think in any of these fourth-quarter drives we said, 'We've done this too many times, we can't do it again,' or 'Oh no. Here we're down by four or six.' We react and roll with it, and I think that's been our mindset and focus."

Q: What is it about this team that you think you guys are going to be able to sustain your winning ways?CP: "I don't think anyone in our locker room is thinking about anything other than the Houston Texans. That's the right mindset. We're not thinking about the playoffs or when we face Baltimore again, or about who we play next week. We're worried about the Texans, and that's the right mindset and focus. It's the right focus barely out of the first quarter of the season."

Q: Is this the best Bengal defense you have been around during your time here? CP: "Absolutely. Without a doubt. It's amazing. They (Ravens) only scored seven points (on the defense), and it was kind of a fluke tackle – they thought he was down, he looked like he was down, and the guy just made an unbelievable play. It's not like they out-schemed us or were more physical on that play, the guy just made an unbelievable play to keep his balance and stay up and do what he did. Aside from that … It's been five weeks that they've played like this. Hands-down the best defense, not even close."

Q: Can you talk about Andre Caldwell's progression?CP: "He gets better every day. He's a guy that studies, he's a guy that works hard, that sits back and watches Laveranues and Chad and tries to learn and takes any input he can get from me or any quarterback or receiver and he just plays football. He doesn't beg for the ball, he doesn't complain when he doesn't get the ball. I don't know how many catches he had last week, but he just went out and did his job every play and finally he had one or two catches and one of them was the biggest one, obviously. He just keeps working, keeps plugging along and is the ultimate teammate."

Q: Since you go against this defense in practice every day, what is the biggest improvement for them? CP: "It's tough to say. The pass rush is tremendous. When you're a quarterback and you have to worry about two or three guys up front and then worry about two corners that can cover anybody in press coverage, it presents a number of issues and a number of problems. I think Antwan (Odom) is leading the league in sacks, or top 5, and you've got Domata (Peko) and Tank (Johnson) – even though he's injured – and Robert Geathers, Pat Sims. There's so many guys, you can have a mismatch upfront and there aren't guys running wide open when the quarterback holds onto the ball for five, six seconds. They have guys who are stuck on by some really good, fast, quick corners. It's tough to say one area that really drastically improved in one area. That may be a question for one of the defensive guys."

Q: Are you disappointed that, even at 4-1, this week's game isn't sold out?CP: "As players, we don't ever think about that. We just hope whoever comes is loud when the opposing offense is on the field, because we know what it's like to be on offense and go to Baltimore. You can't hear yourself think there. You just hope they show up, are loud and help give us an advantage."

Q: What have you seen in the Texans defense?CP: "A lot. They've got really good guys up front, Mario Williams, (Amobi) Okoye and DeMeco Ryans at linebacker, they've got really good players. But most impressively, their cornerbacks, Dunta Robinson is as good a corner in the league in covering guys one-on-one. They sprinkled in a number of corners and nickels in there because it looks like they've been banged up in the secondary a little bit. They've got very good guys on the outside, and when you combine a dominant pass rusher in Mario Williams and you have the situations we have on defense, you're not going to get guys running wide open down field. There's going to be guys running with guys in their hip pocket covering them. They don't do a ton of confusing things, they don't try to show you one thing and try to get into something else, which is something we've been seeing a lot of this month. They just line up and play what they play and play it well."

Q: Because of that pass defense, is there an added performance of getting Cedric Benson going early on?CP: "Absolutely. They struggled a little bit with the run early on this season and they've made some improvements and some corrections in their run defense. It's a really good group. We've got to come out and be physical up front, and dominate up front, because this is a scary team. They can score a lot of points on offense. Their backs are against the wall. They lost a tough one last week, and we're riding a little bit of a high after three division games. We've got to come out and play our best football."

Q: Does the winning, and added importance of each game, make this an exciting time?CP: "I think as the season moves on, you start to look at the playoff picture, and homefield advantage, and first-round bye or whatever. It's obviously way too early to be looking at that. We're worried about this team (Houston). It's an AFC opponent, and that gets thrown into the playoff picture at the end. It's an important game to win."

Q: Is there a particular reason for all the delay-of-game penalties, recently? Is it crowd noise?CP: "Crowd noise played a huge part in that. Playing in Cleveland, their fans are loud, and especially in Baltimore. Baltimore is one of the top three or four loudest stadiums in this league, and we struggle with that. It's something we have to keep working at."

Q: Evan Mathis seems to have filled in nicely at guard. Also, Dennis Roland seems to be a nice surprise in his time as an extra tight end: CP: "He (Roland) has done a great job. We do so much. We move our offensive line around a little bit with a number of different formations. We have a number of different pass protections that are changed at the line of scrimmage. It's tough to get thrown in there in the heat of the battle and try to find a rhythm. Both guys came in and we didn't skip a beat, which is exactly what you want to see. Both of those guys are really smart. They've been around, been on different teams, been on different offenses and they pick up on things really quick. We haven't skipped a beat with them."

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